my Marche

Painting between East and West in the Marche

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We in the Marche, we often say, are plural, we are a mix of peoples who range between East and West due to the coast, the Picenes and the Romans came from the interior, the Celts from the north and the Greeks from the sea. This thing can also be felt in art; we often find in the small seaside churches, such as that of Santa Maria in Portonovo, near Ancona,                                                                               Grigory Meltsev, 1938

where the portraits of the Madonnas have the hieratic fixity of oriental iconography, extremely distant from Western Madonnas: bent to the side, with loving eyes they observe in adoration the infant with the dimples in a riot of angels and saints at his feet.
She's an empress instead. She is the all-holy one, that is, the Panagia, calm and unreal with large, dry eyes. This thing about the difference between one painting and another gives us a sign of how life is interpreted in general, because Western painting is usually based on horror or tears: it must move. Let's think of Caravaggio: he must arouse an emotion, that is, move inside and leave a sign, the sign of God and of the Church that promotes him, while in oriental painting there is no attempt to strike up a conversation with the observer, there are no nonsense of any kind: we are here and they are somewhere else with all the strength and power of something we cannot reach. For Eastern Orthodox the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, while in Western Catholic dogma the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This means that the Logos, made matter, is raised to the same level as the divine Principle. That therefore man, deified, can be saved already on earth. Here the Western Christ exposes his wounds, he is human, the Eastern Christ doesn't even think about it and sits on the throne in the motionless splendor of him.
Because He is the transcendent, and Man, as long as he is immersed in matter, continues to suffer. There is no redemption, he continues to suffer from the inevitable evils of the world. These still iconic images, therefore, have no emotion.

In Western art we find this hieratic fixity perhaps in the only painter who had many contacts with the Byzantine East: Piero della Francesca. And it is no coincidence that he was also the painter of the Malatesta family, that is, of the house that most wanted to identify with the imperial dynasty of Constantine, one of them being married to a Paleologus. In fact, in his paintings the icons are impassive. Every trace of apostrophe is missing: immobile, expressionless looks: they are not from here on this physical plane and do not aspire to be. Byzantine theology, through the mysticism of its disciplines, would lead back to the ancestral tradition of the Platonic and Gnostic East, almost to the Buddhist renunciation of redemption from evil. Souls are not saved, therefore, and the profound theological basis is only a question of words. A sort of mantra. Many Byzantine bishops and monks learned from childhood to repeat a formula of mysterious words, and their national honor was based on the repetition of those words.
It is good to remember that in the plural Marche, in short, almost the entire coast north of Ancona belonged to the Byzantine Pentapolis: it included Ancona (but also Numana), Senigallia, Fano, Pesaro and Rimini.

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